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Phoenix-area couple arrested in death of infant forgotten in car

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PHOENIX — Police in the West Valley arrested a man and his girlfriend in the death of an infant boy who was left in a hot car.

Peoria officer Brandon Sheffert said the infant was pronounced dead Sunday at a hospital. The boy’s uncle and the young man’s girlfriend found him not breathing in the car Sunday afternoon.

Sheffert said Jose Garcia Jr., 18, and Monique Avila, 23, were babysitting.

According to Avila’s probable cause statement, the five-month-old was left in the car alone and without air conditioning for three to four hours near 85th and Peoria avenues. Both Garcia Jr. and Avila told authorities the infant didn’t make any noise on their way to their apartment, so they forgot he was in the car with them.

Avila and Garcia Jr. returned to the car at about 2:45 p.m. and found the boy in the back seat still in his car seat, according to the probable cause statement. Attempts to revive him by Avila and Garcia Jr. were unsuccessful, as were attempts by fire department personnel later.

Even though it rained in parts of the Valley and the high topped out at 86 degrees, the inside of car is much warmer than exterior temperatures. Authorities tested out the temperature inside the car at around 4:30 p.m., hours after the incident, and found that it reached up to nearly 105 degrees inside.

The couple were each booked on one count of felony child abuse. Other charges could be added later, and bail was set at $100,000 for each person.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine cause of death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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